I hear a faint sound, but can’t place where it’s coming from or who it is directed at. As I begin to walk through the parking lot, I hear it once again.
“Pssssst. Helloooooo. Pssssst.”
I look to the car parked in a spot directly across from me and see a frail hand ushering me over. The window is slightly ajar, barely open enough to fit a small hand through.
I look around and do not see another person in sight.
I walk slowly towards the window.
As I get closer, I see an elderly woman in the passenger seat and an older gentleman on the driver’s side.
“Is everything alright?” I inquire.
The woman strains to carry her voice through the small opening.
“Can you please help us?” she pleads.
She explains that both she and her husband need some provisions, and they are scared to go inside with the global pandemic sweeping through the country. They both have compromised immune systems, and although they’re not exhibiting any symptoms, they are afraid they will contract Covid-19.
I lean in to look over at her husband and he nods in agreement.
He begins taking money out of his wallet and passes it to his wife.
“Can you please buy some things for us?” she asks. I can see her eyes begin to well as she slides three twenty dollars bills and a neatly printed list through the window.
I look over the list and my heart drops.
At the top of the list I read:
- Toilet paper
- Hand Sanitizer
- Hand Soap
I know these items are not likely to be found in the store.
Since the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, many people have heavily stocked up on essentials and shelf-stable products. Pallets of products are disappearing within minutes and it’s become common to see store shelves wiped clean.
To disperse the products to more people, many stores have begun limiting the number of essentials to each person. I silently curse those who have taken more than their fair share and are sitting on months or years of supplies at home.
I look at this elderly couple.
They are the ones who suffer.
After assuring them I will do my best to get everything on their list, I head into the store.
I begin with the items I know will be most difficult to find, hoping that I may get lucky at this early hour. As I head over to the paper aisle, I stop a shelf-stocker and inquire about toilet paper and sanitizer.
Surprisingly, he smiles and tells me he just stocked some toilet paper, but cautions me that the store is limiting quantities to two per person. I hurry to the aisle and place two packages in my cart.
I turn the corner to the soap aisle, but all I see are empty rows of shelves. There is no hand sanitizer, but I manage to get two bottles of hand soap. After finding most of the remaining items on their list, I inquire with the store manager, who assures me that all stock is already out on the floor.
I pay for the groceries and head over to the couple’s parking spot.
After placing the bags in their trunk, I proceed to the window, where I slip her the receipt and change. She reads the short note I left on the back of the receipt which has my name, number, and instructions to call should they need anything.
With tears running down her wrinkled cheek, she looks up, and in a faint voice, whispers, “Thank you. God bless you.”
I smile. My heart is full as I return to get my groceries.
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